by Patrick Hoffman on 08/01/11 at 10:00 AM ET
Now that the New York Rangers have their No. 1 center in Brad Richards, many are wondering what the top line is going to look like.
For starters, everyone knows that Marian Gaborik is going to be one of Richards’s wingers. After scoring 42 goals in his first season as a Blueshirt back during the 2009-10 season, Gaborik has a quiet year this past season. Gaborik scored just 22 goals and had 26 assists for 48 points.
While those numbers would be considered decent for some other players in the National Hockey League, these are not the numbers that the team is paying for. What the team is paying for is what he did in the first season when he scored over 40 goals and had over 80 points. He did that without a true No. 1 center as well.
With Richards in the fold, there is definitely a good opportunity for Gaborik to put up some terrific offensive numbers this upcoming season. Hopefully, that will come in the form of between 35 and 45 goals or so.
The one question mark on this line is who will play the other wing? Here are some interesting options:
- Sean Avery: While head coach John Tortorella and Rangers’ pest Sean Avery might not get along, there is no doubt that if put in the right situation, Avery can have success. Avery is good with the puck, can create room for his linemates, can protect his linemates and can even create scoring chances. If Avery can do that this season, he may find himself in Tortorella’s good graces.
- Wojtek Wolski: If Wojtek Wolski comes to training camp and works his tail off to make the club, he might be an interesting option to round out the top line. The 25-year-old has the skills to be a point-producer and make offensive plays. With that said, does he have what it takes to show up on a nightly and consistent basis?
Obviously, there will probably be some hesitation from Tortorella with either of these options due to their inconsistencies and styles of play.
With that said, they are two guys that Tortorella should definitely consider, right?
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.